News / Health

Facebook Project Facilitates Kidney Donations

Damon Brown sits with his wife, Bethany, as they hold their sons Theo, 3, left, and Julian, 5, at their home in Seattle. Damon Brown found a kidney on Facebook after telling his story on a special page the Seattle dad created under the name, “Damon Kidney
Damon Brown sits with his wife, Bethany, as they hold their sons Theo, 3, left, and Julian, 5, at their home in Seattle. Damon Brown found a kidney on Facebook after telling his story on a special page the Seattle dad created under the name, “Damon Kidney
Jessica Berman
On May 1, the social networking site Facebook launched a project to put people willing to donate a kidney in touch with those in need of a kidney transplant. Members who want to donate a kidney were urged to post a status update indicating that. Many experts say the move could increase the supply of donated kidneys, but they point to ethical and medical concerns.

In the United States alone, there are an estimated 114,000 people waiting for an organ transplant. The vast majority are seeking a kidney, either from a live donor - since we each have two kidneys - or someone who had agreed to donate their organs after death. Every day, 18 people in the U.S. die, waiting for a kidney to become available.  

So, Facebook has begun encouraging its U.S. members who want to donate a kidney to declare their desire to do so on their page.  With the number of Facebook members approaching one billion worldwide, some transplant specialists are excited that the initiative could dramatically increase the supply of live donor kidneys.  

In an interview on Skype, David Fleming of Donate Life America, a Richmond, Virginia-based organization dedicated to encouraging people to donate their organs for transplant, said declaring a decision to become an organ donor on Facebook is an opportunity to save a life.

"I think it's rare in our lives here on this Earth that we have an opportunity to do something, that is going to impact, save or heal someone's life or restore sight," Fleming noted. "And what an incredible way to leave this world is to be able to offer someone else a chance at a second life, to be able to have children or get married or see their children graduate from high school or college.  It's just an incredible, selfless act of kindness."

People have used Facebook to appeal for kidneys long before the website launched its live kidney donation drive. Last October, researchers at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, decided to examine some 90 Facebook pages to see who sought kidneys and what sorts of responses they got. The pages surveyed included members between the ages of two and 69.

Lead researcher Alex Chang, a kidney specialist, found that 12 percent of the members reported receiving a kidney, while 30 percent indicated that a number of members volunteered to be tested to see whether they would be a match. On one page, seeking a kidney for a young child, 600 potential donors stepped forward.

While many Facebook members offering a kidney are well-intentioned and honest, Chang says there could be dangers in dealing with strangers on the social networking site.  

For one thing, people in search of organs often reveal very private medical information.  Chang says researchers also found a number of questionable offers from Facebook members, particularly in developing countries.

"You know some of them sounded pretty genuine," noted Chang. "Like they would say, 'I'm trying to complete college and I need X amount of money.  And I've thought about it thoroughly and all the risks of donating a kidney, and I really want to sell my kidney to you.'  And you know it's not legal, it's definitely not legal (to sell organs) in the U.S."

The sale of kidneys from living donors has been banned since 1984, when Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act. Nevertheless, Chang says some potential donors were asking for an average of $30 - $40,000 for a kidney.

Loyola University's Alex Chang presented his findings at a recent meeting of the National Kidney Foundation. As for the social network campaign, Facebook announced that as of mid-May, more than 100,000 of its users had signed up to be live kidney donors.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: KatPet from: USA
June 04, 2012 1:30 PM
What a wonderful, heartwarming story!
PS. Get Paid Daily! Onepennybillionaire.com/kathipeters

by: David J Undis from: Nashville TN
June 01, 2012 12:32 PM
Your story about Facebook and Organ Donation highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations.

There are now over 11,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List, with over 50% of these people dying before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year. There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Everyone who is willing to receive should be willing to give.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers.
1-888-ORGAN88.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs